Get More Out Of Coworking In The New Year

New Year's Resolutions

The New Year is looming large on the horizon, and that means it’s time to think about setting some new goals for yourself and your business. The coworking community provides a safe haven from coffee shops and human interaction you won’t get in your home office. But if you’re looking for to get more out of your membership than just a laptop station, here are some resolutions to keep in mind.

1. Engage

Whether it’s greeting your desk mates by name, participating in potlucks, and extra-curricular activities, or removing your headphones to get in on an impromptu brainstorming session for a fellow member, being engaged with the community is more than just showing up M-F. Choose a seat that’s in the center of the room, or invite someone to lunch, and you might be surprised at how much more fun coworking can be!

2. Teach

You have talent and are an expert in what you do. If you weren’t, people wouldn’t pay you to do it. Chances are, the experiences and skills you’ve gathered along the way would be eye opening to your fellow independents. Many independent professionals are naturally shy, so if the idea of standing up in front of a group of people to unleash your expertise makes you weak in the knees, you’re not alone. Realize that what you know is valuable, even if it seems simple, and if the opportunity arises to impart that knowledge to others, don’t shy away!

3. Share

Tell someone about your experience coworking and invite them to try it. Pass on a contact for a good accountant, real estate agent, or networking group. Bring in that extra loaf of banana bread, or offer to be the driver to an out of town event. Think outside the box when it comes to sharing, both professionally and personally. You just might find that problems and needs have a way of being satisfied when the community supports itself from within.

Image Credit: Flickr – nicolas.boullosa

Coworking Is Vital To A Healthy Business Ecosystem

coworking builds a healthy business ecosystem

Coworking spaces often spend time building connections with other coworking spaces or groups of technically creative people, but it’s important to remember that a coworking facility is still part of the larger, conventional business community (which happens to be struggling right now).

Being different from the common vision of an “office” or a “job” doesn’t mean that coworkers should abandon the 9 – 5ers all together. Sometimes the bridges built between coworking spaces and the larger community are the most important for a healthy business ecosystem, and coworkers should be willing to put the first stepping stones in place.

Host Classes/Workshops/Seminars That Are Open To Non-Members

Whether it’s tips from an outside tax expert or a workshop about how to network effectively, chances are that small business owners or even cubicle-dwellers could benefit from the knowledge as well. Opening up some of your functions to outside individuals is also a great way to give people a peek into everything they’re missing, and an easy way to bring in a few extra dollars of revenue.

Support Other Local Businesses

A group of dedicated, well-connected coworkers is a powerful market segment for any new business. Take the time to introduce yourself to the owners and managers of storefronts that you frequent, and be sure to mention that you’re there because you cowork nearby and you like to support local business. Not only will they become aware about a new way of working, it might even spark a discount for coworkers or create an opportunity for collaboration.

Develop A Resource Reputation

A room full of healthy, motivated, independent professionals is a dream come true for a future business owner. Instead of thumbing through a Chamber of Commerce directory or (gasp!) venturing into the wilds of Elance or, a coworking space provides the business ecosystem with a rich pool of pre-approved talent. All you have to do is find a way to let your community know that this talent exists and is ready to help.

What other ways can a coworking space contribute to the health of the larger business ecosystem?

Image Credit: Flickr – Intersection Consulting

3 Ways To Cultivate A More Vibrant Coworking Community

We’ve talked a lot about all the different ways that coworking can energize your small business or keep you from looking like a hack. Coworking communities are unique collections of people that can provide just enough sun, rain, and fertilizer for your ideas to grow and bloom.

However, just like you can’t just toss a sack of seeds into the dirt and expect to get a garden, you can’t just sit in your seat with your headphones on, waiting for the community to nurture you.

1. Admit You Need Help

Most coworking communities are collections of pretty talented, organized, and all around amazing people. If you’re new to the group, you might be intimidated by all this excellence, and feel that you have to put on a capable face when inside you’re really losing it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The wealth of knowledge your community contains is there for you to take advantage of. Be honest about your weaknesses, and make them available when other people are in need.

2. Ask What People Are Working On

When Monday morning dawns, all fresh and full of emails, it can be tempting to get plugged in and working as fast as possible. But there’s nothing nurturing or vibrant about a community where people don’t make eye-contact. Take just a minute or two to say good-morning to the room, ask what your neighbor’s working on, or share the challenges you’re trying to tackle that work week. Not only will this set a positive tone for the rest of your day, you might just uncover a partnership possibility or a new contact that will prove indispensable in the future.

3. Commence Goofing Off

You can’t spell coworking without work, and it’s true, the most important reason that people are attracted to coworking communities is because they can be more productive there. But you don’t always have to be hunched over with your headphones, oblivious to the rest of the room. The next time someone’s piping up about a problem in their business, or a funny YouTube video that’s burning a hole in their inbox, take a second to crack a smile and indulge in some human-to-human conversation. You need a break from that screen anyway :)

What are other ways that you can help improve your community and create an environment that encourages success?

Image Credit: Flickr – OakleyOriginals

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